I was born on July 4, 1776, and the Declaration of Independence
is my birth certificate. The bloodlines of the world run in my veins, because
I offered freedom to the oppressed. I am 213 million living souls - and the
ghost of millions who have lived and died for me. I am the nation.
I remember the Alamo, the Maine and Pearl Harbor. When freedom called, I
answered and stayed until it was over, over there. I left my heroic dead in
Flanders Field, on the rock of Corregidor, on the bleak slopes of Korea and
in the steaming jungles of Vietnam.
I am the Brooklyn bridge, the wheatlands of Kansas and the granite hills of
Vermont. I am the coal fields of the Virginias and Pennsylvania, the fertile
lands of the West, the Golden Gate and the Grand Canyon. I am Independence Hall,
the Monitor and the Merrimac.
I am big. I sprawl from the Atlantic to the Pacific...my arms embrace Alaska
and Hawaii...3 million square miles throbbing with industry. I am more than
5 million farms. I am forest, field, mountain, desert. I am quiet villages,
and cities that never sleep.
You can look at me and see Ben Franklin walking down the streets of Philadelphia
with his bread loaf under his arm. You can see Betsy Ross with her needle.
You can see the lights of Christmas and hear the strains of "Auld Lang Syne" as
the calendar turns.
I am Babe Ruth and the World Series. I am 110,000 schools and colleges and
330,000 churches where my people worship God as they think best. I am a ballot
dropped into a box, the roar of the crowd in a stadium, and the voice of a
choir in a cathedral. I am an editor in a newspaper, and a letter to a congressman.
Yes, I am the nation, and these are the things that I am. I was conceived in
freedom, and God willing, in freedom I will spend the rest of my days.
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